There are many reasons to focus on local policy and politics. Local governments make decisions affecting our day-to-day lives. They are where many politicians get their start. And, they are the testing ground for policies that wind up getting exported to the state and federal government.
Investing in local civic engagement is important for our democracy – and for climate action. Here are just a few examples of the intersections between climate action and democracy in some of our priority states.
- North Carolina: In North Carolina, we need to harness bipartisan clean energy wins now, while building long-term political power for sweeping climate action and democratic reform. North Carolina has historically had some of the worst gerrymandering in the country. In this redistricting year, NC Republicans drew a map that under-represented Black voters and was eventually tossed out by a court in violation of the state constitution. The climate community must get involved in state legislature elections to defend against a veto-proof majority that could lead to major environmental rollbacks and further attacks on voting rights and racial justice.
- Georgia: In 2020, voters helped to create a path for federal climate progress by electing Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the US Senate. However, despite this positive news, Georgia has made headlines over repeated attacks on voting rights. The fight for voting rights is inextricably linked with the fight for climate action. We know that the vast majority of voters want to see action on climate – and policymakers should be held accountable to their votes. People of color especially are overwhelmingly in favor of action on climate change, but disproportionately affected by fossil fuel pollution and targeted voter ID laws. In Georgia, we’re getting involved in two statewide races that will affect energy justice and affordability. Unfortunately, anti-democratic meddling by the state legislature is posing a challenge to one of our priority candidates, Patty Durand.
- Texas: Last year, the Texas Freeze and grid failure showed us what happens when legislators are not accountable to voters – devastation for both people and the environment. Rather than fixing the grid or addressing systemic injustice, last session, Republican lawmakers introduced a suite of voter suppression legislation. But, pro-climate legislators among the Texas Democrats fought back, walking out to deny the GOP quorum. This year’s elections will set the stage for high profile battles over our climate and democracy in Texas for years to come.
- Arizona: Instead of investing in clean energy, creating good-paying jobs, or protecting public health, anti-climate legislators in the Arizona legislature introduced 100+ voter suppression bills just this year. After redistricting, Arizona is just 2 seats away from winning a pro-climate legislative majority. Winning in Arizona could unlock the power of solar energy in this sunny state, and protect Arizonans from attacks on their rights.
- Minnesota: Minnesota’s state identity is rooted in beautiful lakes, winters, and the great outdoors – but it is already seeing the effects of climate change. While Minnesota Democrats want to invest in health and human services in the state budget, Minnesota Republicans are determined to block it and make deep cuts. Despite the split chamber, Democrats are 5 seats away from flipping the state Senate. With a pro-climate majority in the state legislature, we can unlock huge climate potential for Minnesotans.
State and local leadership matters. Local elected officials are in their communities having conversations about addressing the climate crisis in real tangible ways: mayoral candidates and city council candidates talking about how to transition their public utility to 100% clean energy, state legislative candidates talking about creating clean energy jobs, and more – all while strengthening our democracy to give voters a say in these important decisions for years to come.
You can support Climate Cabinet Action’s endorsed state and local candidates at climateslate.com.